The Brit Box: Nonexistent Disc 6

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OK, part two of my attempt to fill in the blanks of Rhino’s worthy but incomplete Brit Box chronicling the UK indie scene from 1985 – 2000. (Part One, or Disc Five, is here.) Mind you, these are filtered through my own personal taste so no My Life Story, Paris Angels or, um, The Top. Some bands (World of Twist, Spirea X) I just couldn’t find, and others didn’t seem to fit the Britpop bill. Others I did include were probably more popular in America than in their homeland (Kitchens of Distinction, Heart Throbs come to mind, though maybe I’m wrong). As for Space and Kenickie… I don’t hate these particular songs, and if I’d only found that Salad single…

MP3: The Weather Prophets – Almost Prayed

Pete Astor was one of Creation Records’ seminal artists… first with The Loft, then the Weather Prophets, and later as a solo artist. With it’s Velvets vibe, "Almost Prayed" is probably the definitive Astor tune.

MP3: It’s Immaterial – Driving Away from home (Jim’s Tune)

Widescreen pop in the same vein as The Triffids and Blue Nile. My main memory of It’s Immaterial is a poster for the album, Life’s Hard Then You Die, which hung on my college radio station’s wall. It was of this hobo clown, very sad.

MP3: The Woodentops – Good Thing

Giant is one of the best albums of 1986 and still sounds great today. Live, "Good Thing" was played about three times as fast.

MP3: The Darling Buds – Burst

Nearly indistinguishable, initially, from the Primitives (who hit first, in the US at least, with "Crash") but worthy in their own right… and had a longer career, too.

MP3: The High – Box Set Go

High point from these Stone Roses wannabes — "Box Set Go" is most notable as being one of Martin Hannett’s final production jobs.

MP3: Heart Throbs – Dreamtime

Like Lush, but with more keyboards. Have no idea if they were popular in the UK but they did well on American college and commercial alternative radio.

MP3: Kitchens of Distinction – Quick as Rainbows

Definitely more popular in America than the UK, KoD fit with the early-90s shoegazer sound but were never part of "the scene that celebrates itself." They also had more heart and better haircuts. I still like Ride the best, though.

MP3: Milltown Brothers – Which Way Should I Jump?

Weirdly lumped in with the Madchester scene, the Milltown Brothers now sound more like precursors to the whole Britpop thing. Three years too early. Slinky’s an underrated, forgotten little album.

MP3: The Blue Aeroplanes – Jacket Hangs

A truly great live band, with something like four guitarists and one truly weird Polish dancer. A couple of these guys went on to form Strangelove.

MP3: The Candyskins – Submarine Song

Another band who were probably bigger in the US than the UK. The Space I’m In is full of easily-digestible pop and I really liked this album at the time.

MP3: Revolver – Red All Over

One of the better, less-remembered bands from the shoegazer scene but those early EPs were great. By the time they got around to making their debut album, they’d dropped the effects pedals almost entirely.

MP3: Cud – Oh No Won’t Do

They could be borderline novelty at times, but Cud were also pretty great too. The "Oh No Won’t Do" might be the best thing they ever did, all four songs are ace.

MP3: Slowdive – Alison
One of the definitive shoegazer bands, certainly the most dreamy. Took them a while to figure it out though, as their debut, Just for a Day, washes past mostly unnoticed. But Souvlaki more than makes up for it.

MP3: Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – The Only Living Boy in New Cross

Carter so completely exuded Britishness, it was a wonder they got records released in America at all. But they did… all of them I think. Truly one of those bands of a time and place.

MP3: The High Llamas – Checking in, Checking Out

Former Microdisney guitarist Sean O’Hagan indulges on his love of Beach Boys, Steely Dan and all things pastoral with The High Llamas. He keeps making the same album over and over, but it’s a good album.

MP3: Shack – Dragonfly

Shack was Michael Head’s follow-up group to the Pale Fountains. This is from their second album, Waterpistol, which was recorded in 1991 but not released till ’95. The story of why it took so long is nearly as good as the music.

MP3: The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino

An imagined crossbreeding of Lenny Bruce and Rudy Valentino that could only have come the bile-fueled mind of Luke Haines. This is one of the Brit Box’s most glaring omissions.

MP3: S*M*A*S*H – Lady Love Your C***

The most infamous of the "New Wave of the New Wave" groups, and their most infamous song. Doesn’t actually use the C word in the lyrics, though. Sleeper penned a response song, "Lady Love Your Countryside."

MP3: Space – Me and You Vs the World

Um… Space. They had two good singles, this and "Female of the Species." Everything else was crap, though I never heard that duet they did with Cerys Matthews.

MP3: Kenickie – Millionaire Sweeper

Signed to Saint Etienne’s shortlived label, EMIdisc. Kind of like a snottier Elastica. Courtney Love was a fan, for what it’s worth.

UPDATE: So I just remembered a couple more songs. In the spirit of the early ’90s, tomorrow might just see a Bonus EP.

11 Comments

  1. Yes – It's Immaterial! Thought I was the only person in the universe (well almost) who ever listened to them 🙂

  2. Bill,
    for the bonus EP, how about "The Lovely Little Swan" or "Nature Thing" by The Close Lobsters. Aren't they from the UK and fit into this scene/time period?
    You made me buy "Headache Rhetoric" out of the used CD bin at Backstreet Records. Cool disc which I recently added to my iPod.
    Rob

  3. Good suggestion Rob, The close lobsters were great. Also love the Milltown bros, that first album was/is still good.
    One hit wonders the mock turtles' Can You Dig it would fit in nicely here too.

  4. Tom Jones! The duet with Cerys Matthews! I have that somewhere, I'll send it your way.
    For some reason, I'm thinking Space had one more good song but I can't remember what it is…

  5. glad to see the heart throbs on the list. 'dreamtime' is such a great single and 'cleopatra grip' is such an underrated album.
    great job on the additional selections…

  6. What about including a Television Personalities track as they inspired Creation Records and many bands in the years to come.
    Wally

  7. Man, this is a top list of tunes…any chance of a re-post? It teases me everytime it comes up on a search on elbows 🙂

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